Praise Be The Media!
As I have stated before, I think the Media Appeal is underused by the average bobby. We spend a lot of our time on funky new investigation tools such as Hi-Tech Crime, DNA and Handwriting. When has it ever been crucial in a case other than Murder or Rape?
Here is the timeline of a Deception I once investigated: (I imagine most of my readers are by now breathless with excitement to here that not only have I dealt with a Deception, but I investigated it.) Sadly, this is a true story.
- Woman reports that a guy she met three times and decided to move in with has forged her signature and withdrawn the entire contents of her bank account (£3000). PC Bloggs is actually there in response to harassing text messages the woman is receiving from the same guy, but decides to deal with both and takes a statement.
- Arrest of offender. Sadly the offender lives in Rubbishtown, the other end of the force area, 89 miles away from Blandmore. PC Bloggs types out an "Arrest Request" and faxes it to the relevant station.
- Two weeks later, having forgotten about the job altogether, PC Bloggs comes into work and finds a fax telling her that Billybobjojo, the offender, has been arrested and interviewed in Rubbishtown and he has produced a letter purportedly from the victim, authorising him to take the money. Billybob has been bailed to come back to Blandmore on a day PC Bloggs isn't working.
- PC Bloggs rearranges the bail date and Billybob arrives. It is now a month since the original statement was taken. PC Bloggs gets handwriting samples from Billybob.
- PC Bloggs prepares to send the handwriting to the Forensic Unit to analyse. She has samples form his house, 12 samples on bits of paper, and the letter Billybob claimed was written by the victim, which is in the property store at Rubbishtown. PC Bloggs rings Rubbishtown store. "We can't just send it, someone has to come and get it."
- PC Bloggs arranges for a Rubbishtown unit to pick up the letter and bring it to a slightly closer station, where they can send it to her from.
- The person who agreed to send the letter from the closer station goes on annual leave.
- PC Bloggs rings up about the letter two weeks later and discovers it has been sent back to Rubbishtown.
- PC Bloggs rings the Rubbishtown sergeant, who sympathises with her situation and arranges for the letter to be ferried to Blandmore.
- The letter arrives in Blandmore! Now PC Bloggs has to get the handwriting samples out of Blandmore Property store. She is working nights, then days off, then the early morning at the weekend. The property store is not open at any of these times.
- PC Bloggs comes in on a day off to get the handwriting samples out of the store. She submits the packages to Scenes of Crime and breathes a sigh of relief.
- PC Bloggs comes into work to find a note in her docket: "The form was filled in incorrectly. Your exhibits have been returned to the property store. Please re-submit with correct form." In a panic, PC Bloggs rushes to Blandmore property store. No, the letter has gone back to Rubbishtown.
- PC Bloggs drives the four hours to Rubbishtown and back and collects the letter. She transfers it to Blandmore so it will never leave again. She submits the samples by hand and waits while it is checked.
- Four months, six new bail dates, three complaints from the suspect, four complaints from the victim and several hundred critical emails later, PC Bloggs receives the expert analysis: "The results are inconclusive."
- The victim withdraws the complaint.
- I take a statement.
- I knock on neighbours doors. I can therefore blame them if they know nothing useful.
- I do a Media Appeal. If you think this isn't relevant to the offence, you are missing the point.
- I file the job saying, "No response to Media Appeal."
Copyright of PC Bloggs.